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Archive for July, 2006

I'm back!

July 30th, 2006 at 05:23 pm

I'm back from my vacation, and really tired. Ten and a half hours of driving will do that to you! But it's good to be home.

It was not a very frugal vacation, but not the worst on record, either. I spent about $125 on gas, $39 on food (cause I mostly ate at my cousin's house), $14 on sightseeing, and $176 on gifts. The gifts are for my grandson (yet to be born) and for a wedding, so it is money I would have spent anyway. Just not in such cute little shops! I didn't get any great bargains, but the gifts are quality and I'm pleased.

I took my dog with me so that saved me quite a bit in boarding fees. However, he snapped at my brother-in-law and may not be welcome again. He's getting old. He's always been so sweet but is now getting snappish -- not biting but looks scary. Guess I will have the vet check him out to make sure he isn't hurting somewhere.

So frustrated

July 24th, 2006 at 04:04 pm

I just can't get my carpet clean. In fact, I think I'm making it worse. I'm dealing with old cat urine stains. I used up a big bottle of GetSerious and was making some progress, but not there yet. Then I looked for help on the internet and found someone raving about how well white vinegar and water worked. Well, I doused the areas with vinegar and water and the stains have deepened considerably and the smell is rank -- even after a few days. I'm so frustrated. The carpeting is fairly new and quite expensive. I can't replace it, unless I replace patches, which will look bad. I could just cry. Last night I couldn't sleep I was so upset. Does anybody know ANYTHING that will work? Because vinegar sure doesn't.

In happier news, I head out on my vacation tomorrow -- yes, I'm truly Carolina Bound now -- but not permanently yet. I will have access to a computer, so I'll keep checking in.

Today I spent $15.90 for lunch with a friend (I treated). She left the tip. She's been so kind and struggles so with her finances, I just felt compelled to pick up the tab.

My son signed a lease today for a cheaper apartment, which he will share with two roommates. He has also quit smoking. He's on a roll!

Movie & a book

July 23rd, 2006 at 03:52 pm

Today I spent $6.75 to see "Lady in the Water" -- (my short review, a thought-provoking fairytale). Then I went to Border's and bought a book for $7.41. I will actually be meeting the author of the book next week, so I want to have recently read something she wrote! She is a cousin of my best friend, and she is a mystery writer some of you might recognize -- however, I don't want to invade her privacy by naming her, even though we're all pretty anonymous here!

Getting ready for my vacation next week -- I withdrew $220 in cash and that is all that I will spend. Should be plenty, since I am splitting gas cost with my friend and staying free at my cousin's. Anyway, I MUST be frugal, because I have another vacation coming up in August when I will attend a family wedding.

Tightwad Gazette Revisited

July 23rd, 2006 at 08:20 am

I've been dipping into The Tightwad Gazette when I need inspiration. It seems Amy has several themes she keeps hitting on -- I wrote down a list.

1. Re-use items and avoid disposables.
2. Substitute low-cost items for high-cost items.
3. Buy basics.
4. Avoid waste.
5. Avoid overindulgence.
6. Repair instead of replace.
7. Buy second-hand.
8. Use old items in new ways.
9. Challenge the norm.
10. Focus on goals, not deprivation.
11. Use creativity and ingenuity instead of convenience.
12. Focus on needs, not wants.
13. Do it yourself.
14. Spend $ in ways consistent with your personal values.
15. Scale down & simplify.
16. Use what you already have.
17. Let others know what you need.
18. Track your spending.

There you have it. The Tightwad Gazette in a nutshell!

I plan to examine my life in each of these areas and evaluate my personal performance.

Wal-Mart trip

July 22nd, 2006 at 08:18 am

Went to Wal-Mart this morning and spent $53.23. $13 for gifts, $5 for personal, $10 for household supplies, $9 for groceries, $3 for health items, and $13 for clothing.

My cousin, whom I am visiting next week, asked me to bring Red Gold ketchup, which she can't get in NC. I bought six bottles. The other "gifts" are plastic silverware and two bags of candy to take into work.

The clothing was two boxes of pantihose and some underwear.

My health buy was a bottle of Vitamin A. I've decided to buy individual bottles of vitamins and only take what I need. I track what I need on Fitday.com. It's great, if you haven't tried it!

Yesterday was a no-spend day; plus I got free food. 12 oz of orange juice (very healthy) a Dove bar (not so healthy, but delicious). I walked for an hour and ten minutes yesterday, and did my strength training at the gym, so I hope I made up for that Dove bar!

A windfall

July 20th, 2006 at 04:31 pm

I got another medical reimbursement today. They're all coming at once. I'm going to use my "windfall" this weekend to get some things on my list that are "later" items. To explain, I keep an ongoing list of things I need. Every week I pick out the things I REALLY need and the rest goes onto the "later" list -- for when I've got a little extra. My little extra has finally arrived!

We had a party at work today, for which I provided the prizes, just cute little gimmicky things from Wal-Mart. I wrapped each one in a different paper (all leftover scraps)-- and piled them in a bright paper tote I had saved from a box lunch. It looked very festive and I didn't spend anything on giftwrap or gift bags, which is often my downfall. Then, to my surprise, several co-workers offered to chip in for the cost of the prizes, so this really didn't cost me much at all.

I got a free Greenies sample in the mail today along with a great coupon book for Greenies products. I plan to take it to PetSmart and get a bunch of things to put in a gift basket for my cousin. She is a huge dog-lover and appreciates gifts for her "babies" more than anything for herself! I'll take it as a bread & butter gift when I visit next week.

I also got a trial Netflix offer in the mail. I haven't really looked it over yet, but I love movies -- I'll check it out.

Today and yesterday were both no-spend days.

Monday-Tuesday

July 19th, 2006 at 03:46 am

I haven't logged in in a few days. Life is plodding along. I got two reimbursements on Monday, which made me happy. I've probably said it before, but why does it make you so happy to get your own money back?

Monday was a no-spend day. Tuesday I spent $150 at the dentist for a checkup and x-rays (and I don't have to go back for six months, yay!), $8 for lunch out with my fellow workers, and $11 for gag gifts for a social event that's coming up at work. I volunteered to get the gifts, mainly to help out the organizer, but also to contribute. I was hoping to get them for less, but they are cool gifts that I think the "winners" will appreciate.

A co-worker gave me a beautiful brand new blouse/tank top combo that she did not feel flattered her. She knew I liked to shop second-hand, so she felt she could offer it to me without offense. Heck yes! I haven't tried it on yet, but it looks like it will fit. It's so pretty I'm thinking that if I could find the right skirt it would work for the wedding I'm going to next month.

I also got a host of samples in the mail.

I haven't taken the dog to the vet yet, since he seems better, but it's still on my radar.

My run to Kroger

July 16th, 2006 at 10:11 am

Like Flinnie, I had a great run to Kroger today. I went to fill a new prescription which was $25 -- about half of what I was expecting, so that was good right there. While I was waiting for it to be filled, I picked up two more pairs of reading glasses at 75% off (one for my purse, one for the car) and then I noticed that Maybelline mascara was 50% off so I got two of those -- one for the office, one for home. Then I saw a big display of Jolly Time popcorn -- three boxes for $5, with a $5 rebate -- free!

In a few minutes I'm off to see Johnny Depp do his pirate thing, and maybe my buds and I will do something exciting for dinner -- like go to Wendy's. (Actually, that's a treat -- I don't eat out very much so any place I go is pretty exciting!)

Successful shopping and a nice surprise

July 15th, 2006 at 04:41 pm

This was a good day. I had a $20 gift card to use at Kroger, which I got for transferring a prescription there last week. I bought groceries totalling $42, so I spent $22 above the card. Ironically, I also saved $22 by using coupons (some of which were tripled) and by selecting the sale items. So I guess you could say I got $64 worth of groceries for $22.

I also got my bill from the gas company, and my budget bill has been reduced from $118 to $75. Quite a difference!

My lawn got mowed again, so that was another $30.

Before today, I had three no-spend days in a row!

However, it looks like I will have to take my dog to the vet on Monday. There's something wrong with his paw. He's limping and clearly not feeling well. Doesn't seem to be an emergency situation, thank goodness! Now THAT'S expensive!

Lunch & upcoming vacation

July 12th, 2006 at 03:27 pm

It was another no-spend day. I stayed in my office at lunchtime and ate the lunch I had packed for yesterday (but didn't eat, because I was invited out). While I was eating I got online and ordered some free samples. I have always hesitated to do that before, fearing that I will get deluged with junk mail or get scammed somehow. But free is free. I ordered things I regularly use, like coffee, lotion etc.

I'm going on vacation at the end of the month, to visit the cousin I'm going to live with in North Carolina. A friend is going with me, so we'll share driving, gas expense, etc. My dog is going, too! I hope it won't cost too much. I will charge expenses and then pay off the bill with a money market check. So my "operating" expenses won't be affected. Just hoping the price of gas will come down. Just a little?

Fridge is working!

July 11th, 2006 at 05:47 pm

The fridge seems fine. Perhaps double-churned ice cream is softer than regular? Anyway, it's good!

I spent $7.34 today for lunch out with co-workers. A buffalo chicken ranch sandwich at BWW. It was worth every penny! I ordered water to drink; that was my concession to financial responsibility.

Failing fridge?

July 10th, 2006 at 04:16 pm

It was a no-spend day. But I am a little worried. I had some ice cream after dinner and it was very soft. I squeezed the other half gallon and it was soft, too. The other stuff in the freezer seems okay, including the ice cubes. The stuff in the refrigerator seems cold. But I am afraid my fridge is going to give out. I can't imagine why the ice cream would be so soft; it's usually hard as a rock.

In other news -- I got a free sample of glucosimine chondroiton from Wal-Mart. I rather hope I DON'T like it -- that would be a new expense!

Rehabbing the house

July 9th, 2006 at 11:30 am

Well, on Friday I bit the bullet and ordered carpeting for my master bedroom. I've been replacing one room at a time and my bedroom is the biggest, (besides the living room which was done 6-7 years ago with a large remnant). Since then I have been matching each new room of carpeting to that, so that all will flow together "looking richer to the eye" as all the home improvement sites recommend. The carpeting I chose has steadily risen in price -- I think the price of petroleum is a factor. Anyway, to do this bedroom will be over $750. I think at this point I just have to do it rather than abandon my plan. It would look funny to have just one room different, and I want this house to be appealing to buyers. I am living in a town where sales are slow, and I want to sell quickly when I get it on the market.

That said, I sure wish the price wasn't so high.

I am also bummed because I have been struggling to clean some cat urine spots and I just can't seem to do it. There are two in a closet where I think I'll have the carpeting replaced, since I have scraps that size. But one is in the hallway and one in the guest room and I can't replace carpet in either place. I'm so tired of this.

Saturday was a spending day. I spent $23.27 at Wal-Mart on groceries and household supplies. I filled a prescription for $21.80 -- however, I got a $20 gift card for Kroger for switching my prescription to their pharmacy. I'll use that next week. While I was at Kroger I spent $10.95 more for groceries and also a pair of reading glasses marked 75% off. I was glad to find those, because I've been wanting an extra pair to keep upstairs.

I also went out to brunch with a friend -- spent $11.94 at IHOP. $2.38 of that was just for orange juice -- that was a surprise! I could have passed on that.

Today my lawn mowing guy came by to pick up $60 for two "mows." -- That reminds me, someone commented earlier that I should scrap the lawn mowing guy and get a robo-mower -- I know it seems wasteful to pay for lawn mowing, but I'm moving in less than a year and I don't want to invest in equipment at this point. I will be living with my cousin in North Carolina next year and she has a lawn service.

Well, I feel like I'm hemorrhaging money but I do have some frugal "ups." I got a coupon I ordered for a free bag of cat food, I got some free samples of chocolate at Kroger, and I repaired a broom that was damaged by heat (trimmed off the bristles that were curled up). And of course I got that $20 gift card. I'm just going to keep plugging away.

Today's progress

July 6th, 2006 at 02:52 pm

Finally, I got the medical reimbursement I was expecting a month ago! It will go toward this month's grocery expenses.

Things I've done today to save $$:

Packed my lunch -- hot dog, peas & brownie.

My generous co-worker brought in boxes of books to give away. I took home an armload after encouraging her to sell them. (Too much trouble, she said). I will read them and pass them on to my sister and cousin when I visit them. Don't feel that selling them would be the right thing to do; clearly, she wants them to be passed around.

No spending today.

I've stuck to my new no-snack one-dessert policy.

I've also been mindful not to waste gas. I want to try to make a tank last a month.

More fireworks & a trip to the doctor

July 5th, 2006 at 08:58 pm

Well, my neighbors haven't run out of fireworks yet! They were shooting them off tonight, so I went over and asked them to stop, as they were going off right under my bedroom window and I had to get up early. They said "Okay." Now I can't sleep! I think I'm just too wound up.

I went to the doctor today and he gave me samples (about a month's worth) of a new cholesterol-lowering drug, Zetia. If I decide to go with it, it's more expensive than lovastatin, but I've been bothered by gas lately and lovastatin may be the culprit. We'll see how it goes.

He was very pleased that I've lost about 15 pounds since the last time I was there. That inspired me to set some new limits -- I've decided to cut out between-meal snacks and limit myself to one dessert a day. Yes, I've been eating more than one dessert a day! I'm a sugar-holic.

What I did today to save money:

Walked to the gym instead of driving.
Took soup, crackers, yogurt and nuts to work for lunch.
Collected more rocks for my yard.
And of course, got free drug samples.

I spent $32 on gas.

Just give me a hard luck story....

July 4th, 2006 at 01:29 pm

I wish I hadn't answered the door last night. I ended up buying a magazine subscription, and I don't know whether it was a scam or not. One of those "please help me, I'm struggling to make good" sales jobs. Well, he seemed like such a nice young man, and the subscription I got was Parents Magazine for my son and daughter-in-law, who are expecting, so it's not a total waste. I am such a soft touch. Everybody has my number; they probably pass it around!

The subscription was $40. I also spent $3 for library fines yesterday.

I thought I'd start keeping track of the little things I do every day to save.

1. Today I made the conscious decision to stay at home, so this will be a no-spend, no-gas day (unless someone invites me out; then all bets are off!)

2. I got my bathtub drain running more freely with a homemade concoction of baking soda, vinegar and hot water.

3. I pulled weeds while the ground was wet instead of using Roundup.

4. I had a frugal breakfast of corn pancakes (Jiffy corn muffin mix with a little extra milk).

5. I had a frugal lunch of leftover mashed potatoes with gravy made from homemade soup which I pureed and then thickened with cornstarch.

6. I removed the broken underwire (and its mate) from a bra which I might have thrown away in another life.

7. For entertainment AND self-help I'm reading a library book on how not to worry -- a big problem of mine.

I SO dread this evening (speaking of worry) when my neighborhood revs up the fireworks again. I am not a killjoy, but they have been at it for 3-4 days now, shooting things off until almost midnight, and I have lost sleep. They are LOUD, LOUD, LOUD, and my poor dog peed on the floor last night he was so scared. He would not go outside. I don't know who to approach, because it appears to be a big group that gathers for the event. Otherwise, they're quiet neighbors, so I guess I'll just bear it till they finally think the celebratin' is over. What really floors me is the obscene amount of money they must be spending on this! Folks, go to the nice show in the park -- don't turn your neighborhood into a war zone. Grrrr.

June recap

July 2nd, 2006 at 11:35 am

Okay -- here's what I did in June.

I had 15 no-spend days!!! However, as we all know, that means nothing if your overall spending isn't down.

But it is! I spent $2274 last month, compared to $2496 in May and $2838 average since January. (These numbers do not include anything taken out of my paycheck beforehand, such as taxes, medical premium & flexible spending, parking fee, donations, etc.)

I spent less on pet supplies/vet, gifts, groceries, gas, entertainment, vacation/travel, medical/health, and miscellaneous. I spent MORE on home improvement/yard, eating out, furniture/equipment, personal, clothing and snacks. Exactly the same on car repair/maintenance, household supplies, and fees/services.

Yesterday I spent $14 on a haircut, $30 on a shower gift (including card and wrapping paper), $15 on groceries, and $68 for a new memory stick for my camera.

I still need to get some things at Wal-Mart and fill up the tank, but I'm staying in today. I'm nursing a sinus headache, so this will just be my first no-spend day of July.

On Friday I paid most of my bills, including $400 toward credit cards. I usually pay $250-300 so this is a step up. I intended to put an extra $40 on my mortgage, but I was counting on a raise to cover that. I forgot that my raise doesn't go into effect until next month, so that's when I will increase the mortgage payment.

Sometimes I get down about how difficult my situation is, but when I can see real progress, like this, I am very pumped.

It really helps to be talking to others who understand! Thanks guys!